Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24
First Peter 1:3-9
At conventions and workshops these recent years, there has arisen a new term for small group gatherings according to interest; “Breakout Sessions.” They generally follow a keynote address and center around a particular area of investigation.
The Resurrection of Jesus was definitely a keynote address which was a breaking-out and which resulted in small groups gathering to discuss the event and its implications. Our First Reading for today’s liturgy pictures such a break-out group. The Apostles were gathering new members around the “breaking of bread,” and the impact of the Resurrection inspired many to live less private and more relational lives.
This reading centers our attention upon how Jesus’ breaking out was in turn a breaking-in to the strictly human way of viewing life. Those who understood, at least somewhat, the implications of the Resurrection, could understand that if He gave Himself up for the salvation of all, then to be in relationship with Him meant their own breaking out into community and surroundings. Their “Break-Out Sessions” resulted in their own personal resurrections and gatherings of His flock. They prayed, broke bread together, shared their worldly goods with those in need, and in doing so continued the Resurrectional gathering which we see in today’s Gospel.
We see the very early Church, the fragile eleven in a “Hide-Out Session.” They are gathered together in fear, lest that which befell Jesus befall them as a group who followed Him during the “glory years.” Disgrace and abandonment surround them as their isolation imprisons them. Jesus conducts a grand “Break-In Session” and their person and communal resurrections begin. He breaks through their fears as He enters through their locked doors. Despite what they might think Jesus would say to them, He, almost liturgically, offers them “peace” and then “peace” again.
Over their chaos He breathes upon them echoing the biblical breathing of the Creating-God over the chaos in Genesis. Jesus begins the Session with forgiveness and then a redemptive reminder that as He was sent to them, so they are sent to break out and reveal the New Creation. They are what’s new and what they think of themselves. Whose sins they forgive, beginning with their own, they are forgiven. After having been forgiven themselves, whose sins would they retain?
They are sent, blest to break out of their shame, fear and lack of faith, including Thomas, the original “Tommy-Come-Lately.”
They do not get a certificate of forgiveness, but they have seen and they believe. For the rest of us down through the centuries, we see, because we believe. We believe in what they saw and related in their small-group gatherings, and how they have passed it on to us in their writings and their traditions.
The little Easter chicks have broken out of their shells, the flowers are just thinking about breaking through their slumber. Jesus has broken out of the tomb, and the Church is breaking out in the lives of the newly baptized and those of us who are a little dry behind the ears, but growing just the same.
The early Church came to the awareness that Jesus was both the Sent and the Sender. He rose that He might break into our lives, bless us with peace and then breathe courage into us that we might rise and be sent to do as He did. We are baptized into His “sentness” and He is serious about this from His earliest appearances right up to our reception of the Eucharist this very day. As we approach His table, He is preparing to break through, that we might in turn break out and extend His rising.
“In flash, at a trumpet crash,
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